Silly Libertarians; Hayek Is For Kids!

Brian Doherty puzzles me:

Hayek is best known for his 1944 book, “The Road to Serfdom,” which demonstrated to those who believed in a benign socialism that government economic control tends inexorably toward political tyranny.

Really, Brian? You actually believe that Hayek “demonstrated” that welfare states lead “inexorably” to totalitarianism, like it’s some kind of empirical law? I mean, this does explain why all of Western Europe is now Stalinist, wait, no, what the hell?

Obama on Healthcare

One of my lingering concerns about Obama’s campaign is the question of what health care proposal he’ll introduce. I worried for a while that he would come up with something too cautious (like Edwards’ and Clarks’ plans from 2004). Well, those fears are up in smoke now (via Ezra):

Obama explains that his campaign is just eight weeks old, but that there will be a plan in the coming months. The basic principles of his plan are that “everyone’s in”; that there needs to be new efficiencies (from prevention, dealing with chronic treatment more intelligently, new medical technology, decreasing administrative costs, etc.) that can be put towards covering those now without coverage; creating a new pool for coverage, perhaps like the one in which Senators are enrolled; and finding lower costs, such as through the use of generic drugs, not only name brand ones. Following up, Tumulty asks whether where funding should come from, what type of mandates there should be, whether we should continue basically with this system or to come up with a new system, etc. Obama again notes that he is developing his plan, but that he also wants input from Americans through roundtable discussions around the country. That said, Obama favors pooling to increase access but that it will take some time to transition away from the employer-based system but that, for now, employers will either need to pay or play (give their employees healthcare or pay into a system).

Emphases mine. The “everyone’s in” detail is important, because it means that he’s going to be doing something far more ambitious than Lieberman, Clark, Kerry, or even Dean tried in 2004. No more tax credits, SCHIP expansions, and patients’ bil of rights. He’s already gone beyond the candidate I supported in ’04 (Dean), which is great.
The reference to FEHBP is interesting; Kerry proposed opening up it up to non-government employees, while the CAP used it as a basis for a universal program. It passes the Ezra Klein Test of Health Plan Goodliness; he doesn’t just gush about it, he views it as the most likely way to universal coverage. I’d prefer something more along the lines of Medicare Plus, but FEHBP expansion is the best possible option if one is to preserve private insurers.
That said, the “pay or play” reference takes an important aspect of the Hacker proposal: a strong, specific employer mandate. While the reference to Senate coverage suggests that the “system” into which employers would have to pay if they didn’t cover employees themselves will be more similar to FEHBP than to Medicare, this plan is still very good, and stronger than any proposal from 2004 not originating from the crazy three (Kucinich, Moseley-Braun, Sharpton). I’m impressed. Then again, I often am by Obama.

Pardon Ho!

Well, it sure sounds like Cheney’s promising to pardon Scooter Libby:

Vice President Dick Cheney spoke to Hudson Institute members Monday at the Union League Club. Asked about a possible pardon for Scooter Libby, he smiled and said, “You can imagine how I feel about that.” Libby himself was seated in the front row.

Well, we can’t say we didn’t see this coming.

Mista Edwards, He Crazy

Okay, okay, I should really stop this, but John Edwards just can’t stop saying really stupid things:

“It’s easy to date in the early stages. But when it’s time to get married, people get serious.”
— John Edwards, quoted by the Huffington Post, on running behind Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama in recent national polls.

You know, this makes sense if it were said by Bill Richardson, or Joe Biden, or even Chris Dodd. If you’re running on your resumé, it makes sense to attack the frontrunners as being no-substance and all-style. But no – it was said by Edwards, who has the same amount of experience in elected office as Hillary (6 years) and less than Obama (who’s served for 10 years in the Illinois and US Senates). Edwards seems to have this bizarre notion (mentioned in the HuffPost article) that his having run a losing vice presidential campaign in which he lost his home state by a whopping 13% gives him more experience; sorry, John, but that’s not an asset. And you’re no more “serious” than Hillary or Obama by any definition of the word.

Big Sister Is Watching You

As both an Obama fan and a Mac addict, I appreciated this insertion of Hillary into the classic 1984 ad. But I think Matt gets its ramifications exactly right:

The thing about this is that if you’re a Mac user, or just travel in sufficiently techie circles where you’ll recognize this as based on a Mac ad, this ad sends a very clear message: Hillary Clinton’s campaign is like a Windows computer — gray, tedious, dull, etc. If, by contrast, you’re not familiar with the source ad, it’s sending a very different message: Hillary Clinton is a would-be totalitarian dictator. The former sentiment is a sentiment that, I think, a lot of us liberal political junkies can share and certainly something that I think is fair game. The latter sentiment, by contrast, is not only a pretty outrageous claim but also happens to precisely echo one of the incredibly large set of unhinged attacks the right wing has been perpetrating against Clinton for over a decade now.

The 1984 ad is a Mac aficionado in-joke, and I doubt that someone wanting to paint Hillary as a totalitarian would use this footage just because. The creator clearly wanted to portray Hillary as a boring, stale, and plain, as Matt says. But for 99% of the world that can’t tell you that Ridley Scott directed that ad and that it played during the third quarter of the Super Bowl, it looks like the mash-up is meant to depict Hillary as a dictator. Of course, if the rest of the world came to its senses and switched to Macs, we wouldn’t have these problems, and people would recognize that the mash-up’s a fair criticism of Hillary’s over-cautiousness and the whatnot. But the world hasn’t come to its senses and the mash-up has become famous through misinterpretation. Sad.